British Battles: Life on the Front Lines of History

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9780004709697: British Battles: Life on the Front Lines of History

The front lines of history in colour photgraphs. 1996 illus

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From the Back Cover:

How did it feel to face the Highlander's charge at Culloden, or to fight under the Dragon banner of Wessex at the battle of Hastings? ‘British Battles' investigates the great battles of British history form the ordinary soldier's point of view.

From the Viking invasions to the English Civil War and the Jacobite risings of the '15 and '45, 'British Battles' reveals what it was like to fight in the front-line. How to fight with the Saxon two-handed axe, the Welsh longbow, crossbows, medieval cannon, pikes, cutlasses, matchlock and flintlock muskets? What must you to do to survive on campaign as a soldier or camp follower while eating, drinking and sleeping in the field? When could you get effective (if painful) treatment for your wounds?

The Battle of Culloden in 1746 was the last full-scale land battle to be fought on British soil. While almost every other European country has become a battleground since then, for the last 250 years Britain has been spared the horrors of invasion and occupation. Yet all over England and Scotland there are traces of our brutal past. There are tangible signs like monuments to the dead or the bullet holes in the door of Alton church. Local place names like Bloody Meadow keep alive the memory of the hideous slaughter that followed the defeat of several medieval armies.

In 1995 English Heritage published a register of battlefields, focusing attention on 44 sites. Intended to provide guidance for those involved in conservation, the register identifies the geographical location and highlights key features which deserve special care because of their historic significance. 'British Battles' includes all of these historically important engagements and, employing the same criteria, covers the ten greatest battles in Scotland from Stirling Bridge and the war against Edward I to Culloden and the defeat of the Jacobite cause.

'British Battles' is unlike all previous accounts of the battles that shaped our history. By combining eyewitness descriptions with the researches of modern re-enactors, 'British Battles' reveals what it was like for the ordinary soldiers. Over the course of seven centuries of warfare, weapons and tactics changed considerably. But for the men in the front-line, and the women and children often accompanying an army into battle, the experience was disagreeably similar: long marches over dirt roads, bad weather, illness and disease; the terror of close quarter battle and the agonising medical treatment that was the only hope of survival for the wounded.

About the Author:

Freelance film-makers and photo-journalists Ken and Denise Guest have specialised in reporting from remote and inhospitable locations blighted by war. They have travelled with many different armies in the course of their work; sharing the lives and hardships of the local people. Sometimes the 'soldiers' with whom they travelled were irregular guerrilla forces sustained only by national pride or religious faith. In this context, regular forays into Afghanistan and Cambodia have been a feature of their journalistic careers. On other occasions they have found themselves with 'the big battalions'; at the cutting edge of the high-tech, multi-national peacekeeping operations of the United Nations.

Since 1980 front-line reports filmed by Ken have aired on television networks around the world. He reported the Iran-Iraq war from both sides and covered the conflict in the Lebanon from the 1982 Israeli invasion onwards. He was also one of the few journalists to cover the decade-long war in Afghanistan from beginning to end, making over thirty trips with the mujadhideen. His photo-journalist work has been exhibited in New York and Singapore.

Denise, a freelance producer, teamed up with Ken in 1986 to form Contact Productions: a company specialising in news and documentary work. Assignments for clients such as the BBC have involved them working together on the front line of wars from the mountains of Khurdistan to the shattered cities of Bosnia. They married in 1990 between coverage of the civil war in Liberia and the Gulf War.

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Ken Guest, Denise Guest
Published by Harpercollins Pub Ltd (1996)
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